How to Organize a Junk Drawer

Organized junk drawer

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins - 2 hrs
  • Total Time: 30 mins - 2 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0-30

Although junk drawers can certainly be frustrating, they’re also quite practical for those of us with busy, fast-paced lives. In many ways, our junk drawers can actually prevent clutter by providing a storage solution for miscellaneous paraphernalia.

However, the system only works for so long. Eventually, those chopsticks will jam the drawer and that lone screw will be lost in a mess of rubber bands and charging cables. A functional junk drawer requires some attention and organization from time to time. Here are seven steps to help you deep clean and de-clutter your junk drawer.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

Tools

  • 1 wash cloth
  • 1 all-purpose cleaner

Materials

Supplies

  • 1 to 10 drawer dividers
  • 2 to 12 adhesive strips
  • 1 drawer liner (optional)

Instructions

How to Organize a Junk Drawer

  1. Start from Scratch

    First things first: take everything out of the drawer and spread it all out on an open workspace, such as your kitchen table or living room floor. This may seem excessive, to empty your drawer completely, but doing so will allow you to see all of the drawer's contents clearly, so you can sort them correctly. Plus, after you’ve cleared out the drawer, you can wipe down the inside and get rid of any debris or sticky residue.

    Plastic drawer dividers
    The Spruce / Kevin Norris
  2. Pitch the Trash

    Every neglected junk drawer has its fair share of items ready to be tossed. Scan your drawer for dried out pens and expired coupons. Maybe you have a takeout menu or two from a restaurant that’s no longer in business. Check to see if any of your batteries are dead, scissors are dull, or notepads are full. This is your chance to address the mess.

  3. Remove What Doesn't Belong

    Junk drawers can quickly become catch-alls for everything from post-it notes to flash drives and even golf balls. Nevertheless, your junk drawer isn't the ideal home for every knickknack around. As you sift through keys and sharpies, keep your eyes peeled for anything that doesn't belong. If you have an office, consider moving your stapler and scissors elsewhere. Perhaps your screwdriver and tape measure should relocate to the garage. Be intentional about what you decide to keep in your drawer.

  4. Arrange Items Into Categories

    Now that you've done the hard work of tossing or relocating items in your junk drawer, it's time to begin sorting. Divide up your drawer's contents into piles of like items. Here are some examples of categories you could create:

    • Writing utensils: pens, pencils, markers, crayons, etc.
    • Office supplies: rubber bands, paper clips, staples, etc.
    • Electrical items: chargers, batteries, earbuds, etc.
    • Mints, gum, lipgloss, chapstick, etc.
    • Matches and lighters
    • Notepads and post-its
  5. Assign Storage Solutions

    Once you've arranged your belongings into like groups, spend some time selecting the storage solution that best fits each category. You could easily toss a couple of secondhand drawer organizers in your junk drawer, but if you're not thoughtful about the placement of your items, you may quickly run out of room or find that some sections of your organizer are full while others are nearly empty.

    Here are a few ideas to help you organize your drawer's contents well:

    • Consider a small binder for paper items, such as takeout menus and business cards.
    • A classic drawer organizer is especially ideal for assorted office supplies, like rubber bands, paper clips, and thumbtacks.
    • For miscellaneous items, such as screws and plastic doodads, use a small jar or Ziploc bag (something you can see through, so it's easy to locate what you need).

    Tip

    If you opt for a set of drawer dividers in your junk drawer, make sure you use adhesive strips on the underside of each to prevent them from sliding around.

  6. Give Your Drawer a Deep Clean

    Suck out any dust or dirt with a vacuum hose or take your drawer out completely and shake it out. We recommend wiping out the inside with a damp cloth and an all-purpose cleaner, especially if your drawer held expired hard candies or busted pens. As a final step, consider a drawer liner for extra protection.

  7. Refill Your Drawer

    When placing your drawer dividers and other storage solutions, be sure to arrange them (and their contents) thoughtfully and leave some wiggle room. One of the reasons junk drawers become so quickly crowded is because we fill them with more than they can handle. If you finish this project and leave a drawer divider empty, resist the urge to fill it. The extra space will make your drawer a little less overwhelming and will leave room for future belongings.

    Tip

    Keep your lesser used items in the back of the drawer and reserve the front for things you access more frequently, such as stamps and scissors.